On 23 October the Anglican Diocese of Europe held a Thanksgiving Eucharist at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster, to mark the retirement of The Right Rev’d Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe. Bishop Geoffrey’s affection for and close involvement with the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches (which goes back to his days as a student at the Greek Orthodox Seminary at Halki) was symbolised by the presence in the sanctuary of His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira (Ecumenical Patriarchate), His Eminence Abba Seraphim and His Grace Bishop Angaelos (Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate) as well as Father Shnork Bagdassarion and Father Thomas John representing the Armenian and Indian Orthodox Churches respectively. At the end of the service Archbishop Gregorios was invited to consecrate a newly commissioned ikon of the Saints of Europe, which was presented to Bishop Geoffrey.
Bishop Geoffrey will continue his work as co-chairman of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission as well as the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum.
Abba Seraphim and Father Peter Farrington were among clergy assisting in the special Service commemorating the Coptic Feast of Nayrouz, hosted for the second year in succession at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster. His Grace Bishop Angaelos presided and preached. Messages of welcome were made by the Rev’d Canon Andrew Tremlett, Rector of St. Margaret’s; The Archbishop of Canterbury (read in his absence by the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe) and H.M. The Queen (read by the Countess of Verulam, Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire). At the conclusion, addresses were given by Baroness Cox of Queensbury; the Right Hon. Alistair Burt, MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Right Hon. John Bercow, MP, Speaker of the House of Commons. The Church was full and a large number of clergy from other churches joined the procession as ecumenical guests.
The recent visit of His Holiness Mar Basilius Mar Thoma Paulose II, Catholicos of the East, to England, was not only a great blessing for the Indian (Malankara) Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom but also a significant ecumenical event. His visit marked a number of historic anniversaries: 80 years since the first celebration of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Qurbana in the Chapel of King’s College, London; 75 years since H.H.The Catholicos, Mar Baselios Geeverghese II visited the UK in 1937; 60 years since the Malayalee migration to the UK and 40 years since the formation of the St. Gregorios Congregation in London.
Abba Seraphim, accompanied by Subdeacon Daniel Malyon and Reader Trevor Maskery, attended the Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Catholicos at St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church in Brockley on Sunday, 8 September, and assisted in the liturgical celebration and the parochial speeches and festivities which followed.
On Monday, 9 September a Banquet of some 90 guests was held to honour the Catholicos at Lambeth Palace. In the absence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of Gibraltar in Europe (The Right Rev. Geoffrey Rowell) and Southwark (The Right Rev. Christopher Chessum) acted as hosts. Representatives of all the major churches were present as well as many leading members of the Malayalee community in the UK and friends of the Indian Orthodox Church. The British Orthodox Church was represented by Abba Seraphim, Father Peter Farrington and Father & Mrs. Simon Smyth.